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Author Topic: What are realistic expectations from Microstock?  (Read 8862 times)

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michealo

« on: January 10, 2008, 08:35 »
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I started contributing in August
First FT, then DT, then IS, and also BS, LO, CS and SV

My portfolios are made up of:

iStockPhoto --- 80
Dreamstime --- 50
Fotolia --- 71
123RF --- 110
BigStockPhoto --- 130
Snap Village --- 123
LuckyOliver --- 93
Featurepics --- 118
Canstock --- 57

I use FTP and IPTC but uploading to many sites still takes time.

iStock accounts for 2/3 of my earnings, it is relatively accepting and where they do reject they seem to me consistent and fair (not all sites are).

Going exclusive with IS would make up for the earnings of the other sites. It would be all eggs in one basket, but I think it would be a better basket.

I have the time to add about 20 approved images a month.

Fotolia and Dreamstime look to be useful but the others essentially a waste of time, I have been rejected at SS 3 times and whatever abouts its earning capabilities its odd that it rejects stock that has been accepted at all the other sites.

What do you think is a realistic expectation of earnings from that size of portfolio growing at 20 images a month exclusively at iStock?

Any other thoughts or suggestions ..

Thanks in anticipation


« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2008, 10:05 »
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I agree with your comments about the three agencies.

IS performs much better than FT and DT and is more fair and consistent in reviews. Seems that FT and DT have developed some "moody" review standards lately. Even though the images are selling ok, they are increasingly rejecting decent images and making me feel I am wasting my time by contributing to them.

But, my freedom is also important, it pains me to limit myself with one agency, it may limit my vision and creativity.

« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2008, 10:10 »
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IS is jumping way ahead of SS and DT for me right now. I'm going to let it go a couple of more months, but exclusivity is looking better and better every month for me...

helix7

« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2008, 10:14 »
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If istock represents 2/3 of your earnings consistently, I would say that exclusivity isn't a bad idea. I have always said that this is a simple numbers game, and exclusivity should only be done when the math works out. For me, the magic number to go exclusive at istock is 60% monthly earnings consistently, and I doubt I'll ever get to that point so it's not for me. But at over 60%, like you are, I would probably do it.

I noticed StockXpert wasn't on your list. Any reason? They are a big earner for me lately.


« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2008, 10:36 »
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michealo, you have to remember that if you want to go exclusive with IS, there's an issue with DT:

"Contributors are required to keep at least seventy (70%) percent of their portfolio online with Dreamstime.com for a period of at least six (6) months. You may disable all files older than six months from the date of review at any time. You will be allowed to disable a total of thirty (30%) percent of your total images submitted within the past six (6) months. Images that were disabled and then enabled again will be counted as new submissions, no matter of their original upload date."

my 6 months period expires next month, and since IS has been more than 60% of my earnings 3 months in a row... and the bandwidth is an issue where i live... and i want to close my account with SS... i'm going to be exclusive next month!  :)

jsnover

« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2008, 12:21 »
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I think the biggest thing for you to think about in making this decision is that nothing stays the same in the microstock world - at least not for long.

At various times one site or another will change its search algorithm (iStock's not the only one to have messed with Best Match, Relevance or whatever the name is) and files that have sold well suddenly stop selling (and others obviously pick up that slack if the site is doing well). When your portfolio is all relatively new, you benefit from a bias in favor of new files that most of the sites have in the default search placement choices.

Sites have had various hiccups in their web site leaving things down or limping for a while (iStock and Fotolia come to mind). Remember all the hoo-ha over the introduction of the controlled vocabulary and Fotolia's V2 introduction?

When you have portfolios across more than one site, these various snafus are unpleasant and an inconvenience, but they don't become a catastrophe in the way they do if the problem is at the only site you sell through.

You haven't been selling stock (through the micropayment sites) for all that long. You might want to wait a bit before deciding that a good few months at iStock means you'll go exclusive there.

« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2008, 12:23 »
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Another factor worth considering is that if you are exclusive with istock, you are not allowed to sell RF on the higher priced sites, like Alamy and the Photoshelter collection.  This would stop me going exclusive as I want to sell RF at higher prices than istock allow.

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2008, 12:48 »
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Not RF, but you can still sell Editiorial and RM on Alamy and Photoshelter, correct?

« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2008, 12:56 »
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Not RF, but you can still sell Editiorial and RM on Alamy and Photoshelter, correct?

Yes, you can sell RM.  However, you cannot sell your rejected files anywhere at all. 
(Does that include selling them as RM, I wonder??)

« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2008, 13:02 »
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Yes, you can sell RM.  However, you cannot sell your rejected files anywhere at all. 

Why not? Where does it say that?

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2008, 13:05 »
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Yes, you can sell RM.  However, you cannot sell your rejected files anywhere at all. 


Why not? Where does it say that?


http://www.istockphoto.com/exclusivity_intro.php?ID=1

The Contract specifically does not allow:
- Images for sale on artist's own site (including collections, CD-ROMs, etc).
- Artist to give away images for free, either from their own, or any other site.
- Rejected images to be sold elsewhere

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2008, 13:11 »
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Not RF, but you can still sell Editiorial and RM on Alamy and Photoshelter, correct?

Yes, you can sell RM.  However, you cannot sell your rejected files anywhere at all. 
(Does that include selling them as RM, I wonder??)

You can't sell rejected files, but how many files truly end up as "No Resubmit" rejects?  Almost all of my "Can Resubmit" files have been accepted anyway so my true overall rejection rate is fairly low. 

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2008, 13:27 »
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I've also been researching exclusivity at IS.

Most of the IS exclusivity threads indicate that new exclusives see a 25%-100% immediate increase in earnings due to higher commission, better search placement, higher upload limits, and faster reviews. A small percentage haven't seen any increase or saw a decline. What will you see? Who knows.

SS seems to like persistence. Sometimes it takes 3-4 tries to get in. They are my top earner, with IS as a close 2nd. But I've also noticied you need to keep feeding SS new stuff to maintain higher earnings otherwise they start to drop off a bit. If I stopped uploading to all sites for a month, I have no doubt IS would take over as my top earner.

I guess it comes down to risk vs reward. What do you risk by using one site over many?


« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2008, 15:55 »
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From IS"The Contract does not require exclusivity for:
Rights-Managed images with other organizations"

This all or nothing is one of the biggest problem with IS exclusivity. Some of our biggest earners on other sites are rejections from IS.

Also to say you can't RM images they rejected just seems wrong, next they are going to want rights to your first born.


helix7

« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2008, 16:19 »
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...Also to say you can't RM images they rejected just seems wrong...

That's pretty lame. They rejected them, meaning they didn't want them. How do they retain any right to what you do with those images if they opted not to take them? I wonder if there's some weird legalese in the upload terms.


« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2008, 16:40 »
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...Also to say you can't RM images they rejected just seems wrong...

That's pretty lame. They rejected them, meaning they didn't want them. How do they retain any right to what you do with those images if they opted not to take them? I wonder if there's some weird legalese in the upload terms.



I think the way I have heard it explained before is the artist/photographer as a whole is exclusive to IS, it's not just the images being exclusive.  I don't agree with it, but that is how they see it.  Their ballpark, their rules I guess.

« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2008, 17:28 »
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If you email support, you can discuss selling your rejects as non-RF elsewhere.  I've heard it done in the forums.


« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2008, 17:45 »
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What do you think is a realistic expectation of earnings from that size of portfolio growing at 20 images a month exclusively at iStock?



One of the advantages of going exclusive at IS is the higher upload limit (correct me if i'm wrong, i'm not exclusive there!)

So if you don't plan to upload more than 20/month, you are loosing one of the advantage, don't you think?

I would personnaly try StockXpert and SS before thinking of going exclusive anywhere.  That way you may have a more precise view of earnings you could have with your photos.

Speaking of earnings, I would expect between 100 and 150 dl's per month for a portfolio of the size of yours, and with the sales of SS and StockXpert.  Of course these figures can vary widely based on your type of photos but I guess that you can use these figures.

Claude

« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2008, 19:27 »
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We more than double our IS income by being on other sites StockXpert Fotolia SS.

« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2008, 23:13 »
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The stupidity of IS Exclusive program is that it is the only agency that demands that the artist should be exclusive, when the usual is that images are the ones to be exclusive (you usually cannot sell similars on other sites under those terms).  You dont see "Corbis exclusive artist" or "Jupiter exclusive artist"... You usually see "images exclusive" whoever...

So you end up being a RF prisoner of IS for an extra 10%... NO WAY!

And about what to expect from microstock... You should consider it a part of your stock business and not the business.  Prepare to work hard, to define your style, to build a portfolio, to see sales go up and down according to season and to seek other venues for selling images beyond RF.  It is a wild ride that, despite all advices that you can receive, you have to figure out for yourself after a while... :D :D :D
« Last Edit: January 10, 2008, 23:16 by HermanM »

« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2008, 00:09 »
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I've also been researching exclusivity at IS.

Most of the IS exclusivity threads indicate that new exclusives see a 25%-100% immediate increase in earnings due to higher commission, better search placement, higher upload limits, and faster reviews. A small percentage haven't seen any increase or saw a decline. What will you see? Who knows.

SS seems to like persistence. Sometimes it takes 3-4 tries to get in. They are my top earner, with IS as a close 2nd. But I've also noticied you need to keep feeding SS new stuff to maintain higher earnings otherwise they start to drop off a bit. If I stopped uploading to all sites for a month, I have no doubt IS would take over as my top earner.

I guess it comes down to risk vs reward. What do you risk by using one site over many?



better search placement?
I dont think so, the best match has to my opinion nothing to do with exclusivity at IS,, it is not the interest of the client. However nobody knows for sure of course....
As to become exclusive, I have been thinking doing t my self. IS has always been where I got the highest earnings (have about 2700 pictures there as well as ST, FT, DT), however they are very unconsistans, and the situtaion is changing very much, believe me or not over the last 6 weeeks, Fotolia is the best  to me ! and this has never happend before, there are oviously things changing in the business, I would be more cautious than ever before making such decision. But to be honest I regularely consider it , but so far it wounldt be a good business to me.
jean

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2008, 07:14 »
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better search placement?
I dont think so, the best match has to my opinion nothing to do with exclusivity at IS,, it is not the interest of the client. However nobody knows for sure of course....
As to become exclusive, I have been thinking doing t my self. IS has always been where I got the highest earnings (have about 2700 pictures there as well as ST, FT, DT), however they are very unconsistans, and the situtaion is changing very much, believe me or not over the last 6 weeeks, Fotolia is the best  to me ! and this has never happend before, there are oviously things changing in the business, I would be more cautious than ever before making such decision. But to be honest I regularely consider it , but so far it wounldt be a good business to me.
jean

I do think so. The search placement is debatable but there are plenty of exclusives who feel their images had immediate better placement after becoming exclusive. How would you explain immediate increases of earnings of 50-100% or more when they may have only jumped a canister level in commission (25%?)?  IS gives exclusives the edge with everything. Why not search placement too?

« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2008, 12:48 »
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I do think so. The search placement is debatable but there are plenty of exclusives who feel their images had immediate better placement after becoming exclusive. How would you explain immediate increases of earnings of 50-100% or more when they may have only jumped a canister level in commission (25%?)?  IS gives exclusives the edge with everything. Why not search placement too?

Well it is certainly to iStock's advantage if everyone thinks  Exclusivity improves search placement.  Just makes it all that more attractive an alternative.  fred

« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2008, 16:31 »
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As non exclusive it is my advantage to make you think it is not the case....
anyway who knows....
jean


 

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